Bang Your Head Tour
with Quiet Riot and featuring Faster Pussycat, Bulletboys, Gilby Clarke
July 20, 2014
The bill reads like an 80’s L.A. hair metal reunion. If you ever felt like you were missing something by not taking the pilgrimage to L.A. in the metal days of the 80’s, have no fear, they’re bringing the Sunset Strip to you.
Going into this show I was a little hesitant. You see, I was more of a Maiden and Priest kind of metal guy. I traded the cars and chicks themes for metal that took on tales of death and mythology. Faster Pussycat was something that I chased away with a big dog named Metallica. So, you can probably understand my cause for pause. But, Quiet Riot was at the front of this metal locomotive; and having seen them in the live setting before, I know that they come at you with a full head of steam. So, I made my way to Mojoes in Joliet, Illinois to see what the L.A. Strip sounds like some 30 years after the fall.
Didn’t quite know what to expect from original Guns ’N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, but I was pleased with what I got. He came with a tight power trio that played his original music, with the exception of a worthy rendition of Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which he also covered with G’N’R of course. He didn’t touch on the G ’N’ R stuff, and that was fine with me.
Next up was Bulletboys, led by their original singer Marq Torien. This is a band that I had a short run with when they released their self-titled debut in 1988, with the lead single “Smooth Up In Ya”. I liked the tougher sound they brought back then, and they brought that big tough sound to Mojoes more than 25 years later. Torien is an intense powerhouse physically, as well as with his guitar and his voice. It was a highly revved up set performed by a well-rehearsed band.
As Faster Pussycat was preparing, so was I. Singer Taime Downe’s sleazy whine was something I just couldn’t deal with back in the 80’s. “Bathroom Wall” was a song that made me cringe. This was the band I feared the most, but I must say that the set was entertaining. They were the most visual and theatrical of all the acts on the evening. The stage stayed very dark for the entire set; perhaps to make the lighted bass drum or the light bulb-lined cross that Downe perches himself on during the hit “House Of Pain” more intense. Whatever the reason, the effect was successful. Downe came out of the darkness in face paint with his whine still rough on the ears, but the overall sound was groove heavy rock ’n’ roll. Chants of “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” and the mention of “pussy” at every turn, but good fun nonetheless. The band did have a heavier sound than I remember them having, but perhaps that was brought on by Downe’s venture into industrial metal in the early 90’s. I don’t see myself running out to complete the Faster Pussycat catalog, but I was entertained by their set - and that’s really what it’s all about, right?
Now it was time.
I remember running down to my local record shop to purchase Metal Health back in ’83, and running back home to throw it on the turntable. I sat my fat, 15-year old metal ass in front of that thing all night. The record was the first metal album to ever reach the top spot on the Billboard chart, and it deserved to be there. The title track quickly became a battle cry for every metalhead, and it remains that way to this day. I was about to hear that title track and a whole lot more, and I was feeling blessed.
The band took the stage with drummer and bandleader Frankie Banali, longtime bassist Chuck Wright, guitarist Alex Grossi, and newest member Jizzy Pearl on vocals. As they launched into one of the deeper tracks on the Metal Health record, “Run For Cover,” it was clear that Quiet Riot packed the biggest punch on the bill. If you’ve ever had any doubt about the heaviness of this band, just know that they opened for Slayer in 2011. Only the heaviest bands can do that and live to tell about it. This band is heavy, believe it. The other question you might have about Quiet Riot might concern the vocals. Can they bring back the dynamic of Kevin DuBrow and give those classic anthems the same feel and integrity? I would agree that the task isn’t easy, but I would say Jizzy Pearl is fit for the job. There were times in the set where it seemed as if DuBrow’s spirit was singing through Pearl. The DuBrow vibrato was strongest in songs like “The Wild And The Young” and “Thunderbird,” and Pearl captured a lot of it here in the live setting. As for guitarist Alex Grossi, he did a little bit of everything. He stayed true to the shredding solos of former guitarist Carlos Cavazo, and put together an effects drenched solo midway through the show that was a bit of a surprise. Using pedals to create a solo that sounded almost like an industrial/electronica backing track, it was anything but traditional or predictable.
This rhythm section is just about as tight as it gets. Drummer Frankie Banali is monstrous with every groove, and bassist Chuck Wright is popping up and down the fretboard right along with him. They give new meaning to “in the pocket.” Few people realize that it was Wright, not Rudy Sarzo, that played bass on “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”. Aside from being the greatest metal anthem of all time, it is arguably Quiet Riot’s most bass heavy song. Banali and Wright have been laying the foundations for metal song structures since the early years, so it was no surprise to see them totally locked in here.
In what was a "go for the throat" kind of set, there was an emotional moment to be had as well. Just before the band played their Metal Health power ballad "Thunderbird," Banali came to center stage with his heart in his hands. He asked the crowd of crazed metalheads for a moment of silence to remember the late Quiet Riot guitarist Randy Rhoads, and his best friend, former singer Kevin DuBrow. To hear an entire auditorium go from a deafening roar to complete silence was something that convinced me of the huge respect that these two people still maintain, and it made me proud to be a metal fan.
After I see almost any show, I start to think of the songs that I didn’t hear. It’s very very rare to come away from even the greatest concerts completely satisfied with the setlists. But, I must say that this was a setlist that covered just about everything you could hope for. They stuck to their most successful albums - Metal Health, Condition Critical, and QRIII - and did almost every track from Metal Health. I’m someone that thinks the QRIII album is one of their strongest, and I would’ve loved to have heard “Twilight Hotel,” but that’s complaining that the Ferrari in your garage isn’t a Lamborghini.
This setlist was as complete as it gets:
Run for Cover
Slick Black Cadillac
Mama Weer All Crazee Now
Sign of the Times
Love's a Bitch
Put Up or Shut Up
Party All Night
The Wild and the Young
Let's Get Crazy
Cum on Feel the Noize
Bang Your Head (Metal Health)
With this lineup looking as solid as they did, and the release of a new album with brand new original material (entitled 10), it looks as if this band is ready to spend some time together. In a musical climate that is saturated with all kinds of new talent, it’s nice to know that one of the legendary bands of yesterday can still heat things up today.
For more information about Quiet Riot tour dates, merch, and to purchase Quiet Riot's latest album, 10, you can visit:www.officialquietriot.com
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